No, Mr. President, the jobs report is not good news

| February 4 2012
Christopher Cook

The president is going into a tough reelection fight. With an economy taking this long to really recover—longer than any postwar recession—people, especially independents, tend to long for a new direction. This means a new occupant at 1600 Pennsylvania.

Thus, in addition to scare tactics, accusations of racism in anyone who dare oppose him, and running against Congress, the president will need to find a few bright sides to hang his hat on.

One of those potential bright spots, it seemed to some, was the recent jobs report showing a drop of 339,000 in the number of unemployed Americans. But is that really good news?

It doesn’t take into account the historically low participation rate . . .

If we include those who have given up looking for work and those who could only find part time work, the unemployment rate stands at almost an entire percentage point higher than when Obama entered office. [ . . . ]

almost 1.2 million additional Americans were classified in January as not being in the labor force (see figure here). Unfortunately, that has been the consistent story that has made this “recovery” unique as more and more Americans have just given up looking for work.

. . . or long-term unemployment, also at postwar highs:

In January 2009, 11.6 million Americans were out of work and 23 percent of them had been unemployed for more than six months.

Today there are 12.8 million unemployed and 43 percent have been out of a job for more than six months. The average length of unemployment has increased dramatically since even the recovery started. Back in June 2009, “only” 29 percent of the unemployed had been unemployed longer than six months.

It also doesn’t take into account the fact that of those who have been lucky enough to leave the ranks of the unemployed AND get a job (as opposed to just giving up), some of those have only been able to find part-time work.

This is the slowest “recovery” since the Great Depression and it is largely because of government regulations and government-generated economic uncertainty. President Obama will do all he can to take credit for any movement in the right direction, but the American public should be very wary of crediting the same person who played a role in the exacerbation of the problem he is now claiming to be fixing.

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